Thursday, April 17, 2014

Emotional Suicide

Physical suicide never considered.

Spiritual suicide never entered my mind.

As Lent draws to a close, the scattered pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. The beauty of the picture becomes apparent. Emotional suicide, coming to the end of myself, brokenness redeemed.

I am a broken woman. Broken exposing need; broken so my insides leaked, desires known; broken to be part of community; broken so his light shines. Brokenness seemed to be a theme these past 40 days.

Praying Psalm 139:23 and 24 daily.                                                                                                      Planning an evening of honoring special friends around II Corinthians 4:7.                                      Reading the book below.                                                                                                                      Once again writing about that time in 1997 when I gave up and pulled my mask on tight.                    Reading Holey, Wholly, Holy by Kris Camealy.

These words of Charles Martin from his novel, Unwritten, capture for me part of God’s purpose in

“I used to think that a story was something special. That it was the one key that could unlock the broken places in us. What you hold in your had is the story of a broken writer who attempted to kill himself and failed who meets a broken actress who attempted to kill herself and failed and somewhere in that intersection of cracked hearts and shattered souls, they find that maybe broken is not the end of things, but the beginning. Maybe broken is what happens before you become unbroken. What’s more, maybe our broken pieces don’t fit us. Maybe all of us are standing around with a bag of the stuff that used to be us and we’re wondering what to do with it and until we meet somebody else whose bag is full and heart empty we can’t figure out what to do with our pieces. And standing there, face to face, my bag of me over my shoulder, and your bag of you over your shoulder, we figure out that maybe my pieces are the very pieces needed to mend you and your pieces are the very pieces needed to mend me but until we’ve been broken we don’t have the pieces to mend each other. Maybe in the offering we discover the meaning and value of being broken.” (Italics mine) I love that last sentence.

"There is no shame in brokenness. We are all shattered pieces of the body just trying to heal up and close the holes that sin leaves behind. replacing the darkness with light. Hope lives. Resurrection awaits." Holey, Wholly, Holy page 28.

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given to you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” Luke 22:19 (bold, mine)

Easter is coming!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Embrace the Grace ~ Tuesday Grace Letter

Mundane FaithfulnessI wasn’t sure I wanted to link up with Kara this week.

“Dream big, pray big, and anticipate grace this summer.” That was the assignment.

This summer could look different than our dreams and anticipations.

But that pray big phrase admonishes. And am I really anticipating grace this summer? Or am I living in a place of I don’t think it will look like we hoped or planned. 

Henri Nouwen writes in Compassion, “We do not have to go after crosses, but we have to take up the crosses that have been ours all along.”

And therein is the other reason I wasn’t sure I wanted to link up this week. Our family is not battling cancer. My cross seems puny. Does anyone really want to hear?

And then God whispers,
“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” II Corinthians 10:12b NIV

Our cross rests with my husband’s back surgery last Valentine’s Day. He is not healing like we thought. Pain is a daily reality. Walking is slow; bending is very slow; roads with bumps (all of them) are almost intolerable.

And we are campers.
Cabin in Progress

Also we are building a small cabin in the mountains, The Sanctuary. Yes, We. Are. Building it. Our Amish friends put up the shell for us. From the outside it looks finished. On the inside not so. We’ve experienced much fun working together. Bill became an electrician; I’ve learned to use a power saw. That was last summer. Our do-list for this summer loomed big. But we looked forward to the next challenges.
Our summer dreams included making significant progress on our Sanctuary AND taking our pop-up camper on vacation. 

Will those things happen?

The dreams are there. The anticipation of grace was not. Conviction! And where has my prayer life been?

This week, Holy Week, the week leading to Easter reminds of the HARD of Jesus’ reality as He walked toward the cross. Jesus embraced the grace. He walked toward the last supper with his friends; he walked into the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter; he walked toward the trial that convicted him; he walked to the cross; all the time embracing the grace of resurrection.

As I walk toward summer, where are my eyes? Where is my heart? Where is my focus? Is it on the disappointment that I think will characterize the summer? Or is it on the God of grace who knows how to redeem even when I can’t see it?
The details of the summer are foggy. God’s presence is reality. I’m turning my focus to God. I want to embrace the grace.
“… My grace is sufficient for you …”                                                                                                                            II Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Despair, Hope, Trust

 The rain
          sliding down the glass
          pictures the tears escaping my eyes.

                 The hard of life overwhelming.
                 The ways of God mysterious.
                 The beauty of days fading.
                 The questions of my heart proliferating.
                 The fears of my mind reality.
                 The gray of the sky all-encompassing.


"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13 NASV


"Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Psalm 42:5b ESV

I sense the edges of my mouth turning,
           the beat of my heart quieting.

Remembering, reminding, reviewing,
Believing, clinging,
Challenging the despair,
Daring to hope,
Trusting The One.       
October 15, 2013
Peoria, Illinois

Praying for you, my friend.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Grace Letters - Met by Grace

Mundane FaithfulnessOften on Tuesdays I link up with Mundane Faithfulness, a wonderful blog penned by my friend Kara. I hope you'll click over and read her words too.

My story ... 

I give up and I don’t care! It came to that. The tears flowed. My friend listened quietly.

The hour before we sat in the large group meeting. She (another friend) was up front, again! It’s important that it was a she. Why did she get all the opportunities? I want to minister too! Why does the offer never come my way? My husband says he saw the steam exiting my ears.

For me, ministry meant being up front.

The meeting ended. I put on my friendly mask and hurriedly stomped (I mean walked) from the meeting room. 

Later my husband sat patiently with me while I poured out my MAD to him. He too listened; he also had a suggestion, “Perhaps you should see a counselor,” he offered. Had it come to that? Would nothing else work? A counselor—now that was really bad, bottom of the barrel bad.

Grace came slowly; but grace came. It came in bits. In bits God knew I understood.

I am glad to remember and recall the gentle line of transforming gospel grace that pulled me toward freedom.

Looking back I see the first grace step.  Back then it didn’t seem even close to grace—more like 'a severe mercy' as C.S. Lewis describes. I needed to come to the end of myself, my striving, and my definition of ministry. That was an important beginning.

Grace showed up in my friend and in my husband as they both listened. I know they were crying on the inside with me and for me while my tears visibly soaked every available tissue. Even in the midst of my pain, I recognized the grace of their presence.

The next evening grace showed up through the story of another friend, a friend I highly respected. We were walking to the banquet together lingering behind the rest. My mask was firmly secured; she knew not of my tears the night before. She just happened to mention the counselor she was talking with. I’m sure she must have noticed my jaw fall open. My friend, the one who had such a vibrant ministry, was talking with a counselor?! Not only did that surprise—no, shock, more importantly God used her words to put a crack in my belief about counselors and those who need to talk with them. A BIG grace.

Then grace slowed; I needed time to live this chapter, to calm my heart, to be ready for the next. That two year hiatus prepared me. 

God’s love and care, his grace, showed up in an unexpected way. I was ready.

As a result of my husband's of burnout and depression, it was suggested that we talk with a counselor. Bill, never wanting to repeat his hard, was eager. I had no problem joining him; it was his problem—not mine.

That two week counseling intensive changed the course of life for us. My perception of counselors radically altered. I am so thankful for those gifted grace-filled friends. Their discernment blessed.

Not only did the calendar ring in a new century that year, those two grace filled weeks rang in a new understanding of the transforming gospel; a new understanding of the meaning of living in an environment of grace. Grace was recognized because of the hard.

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 15:2 ESV (Italics mine)